Monrovia – For the ruling establishment, governance is about knowing the people, being familiar and attending to their immediate needs, but this ideology has come under sharp contrast and questioning by formidable opposition leader, Alexander Cummings.
Report by Lennart Dodoo, firstname.lastname@example.org
He believes governance is about having a working strategy.
At the onset of George Weah-led administration, Cummings was lukewarm in his criticisms of the government; often intimating that it was quite too early to criticize.
But the posture has changed five months on for the opposition leader, who now sees a bleak future should the status quo be maintained.
“The early signs are not good, there seems to be no strategy and a clear vision from the ruling party,” Cummings told a gathering at a Rotary Club program in Monrovia.
The government professes pro-poor governance, however, the likes of Cummings is troubled by the lack of a blueprint of a clearly defined strategy, goals and methodologies in achieving pro-poor governance.
In his recent criticism, the Alternative National Congress political leader expressed concerns over appointments made so far, insinuating that some of the appointees lack integrity, qualification and without semblance of moral rectitude.
“We are disappointed because we are seeing the repeat of what we all promised to change when we all were in opposition. There seems to be no substance in the administration.” – Alexander Cummings, ANC Political Leader
His frustration, he said, is because things they – opposition parties including the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) – spoke of and opposed is now being embraced by the CDC-led government.
“We are disappointed because we are seeing the repeat of what we all promised to change when we all were in opposition. There seems to be no substance in the administration,” he lamented.
Cummings, viewed as a newcomer in Liberian politics, was admired for his smart ideas on governance, but the former Coca-Cola executive was not favored by the numbers at the polls – he was little known.
The Executive Mansion isn’t taking Cummings’ reproaches lightly. Presidential Press Secretary, Sam Mannah, Wednesday afternoon reacted to the critique in a commentary. He wrote:
I am amazed by the regurgitation of nothingness being proffered by the Leader of the Alternative National Congress (ANC), Mr. Alexander B. Cummings.
It’s quite astonishing that the failed politician who only came to the limelight a fortnight ago to pursue his desire to lead a nation he abandoned during its dark days would pretend to love it the most; to insinuate that he has the solution to its problems.
What’s amusing the most, is that he has the audacity to accuse the President, George Manneh Weah of making questionable decisions, even going to the extent to suggest that the country is doomed for failure.
While this is wishful thinking on the part of Mr. Cummings, I wish to inform him that governance is quite different from selling a bottle of Coke. Governance is about putting the right mechanisms in place to ensure that the needs of the citizenry are addressed; something our President has done and continues to do since his inauguration five months ago.
I cannot emphasize enough how committed the President is to bring about total transformation to the lives of the Liberian people, which is why he has put measures into place to stabilize and jumpstart the economy, embarked on a robust road construction initiative to finally address the major road deficit we have been plagued with for decades, as well as focus on delivering tangibles for the Liberian people through the implementation of several impact driven pro-poor initiatives.
Mr. Cummings claimed that our President doesn’t seem to have a strategy to govern, but I like to remind him that delivering for the people you have lived with and known for the past five decades doesn’t require a strategy, but provision of their basic needs and wants. This is something our President has been doing, unlike Mr. Cummings who will need a strategy because he doesn’t understand the plight of the Liberian people, owing to his protracted absence from the Country, and as such lacks proper understanding of the issues confronting the average Liberian.
It’s bemusing that with all the strategies Mr. Cummings put forth during the just ended elections, he was massively rejected by the Liberian people and his party was not able to win a single legislative seat. Gone are the days when we will have people use Liberia as a retirement farm. Lest he is unaware, Liberians need true patriots, not tourists.
From the ANC’s perspective, Mannah’s response is rather a personal attack on its political leader, rather than addressing the issues raised by him.
What’s amusing the most, is that he has the audacity to accuse the President, George Manneh Weah of making questionable decisions, even going to the extent to suggest that the country is doomed for failure. – Sam Mannah, Presidential Press Secretary
The ANC responded:
Mr. Mannah, what you forget to know is that as Press Secretary to the President, you are now being paid by taxpayers, who include members of ANC and other parties. You are no longer just a press man for the CDC. As such, you have a duty to serve all Liberians and not just the interest of CDC. So, you certainly can tell the public about the President’s work, accomplishments, etc. But you cross the line when you launch a highly partisan and personal attack on members of the public or leaders of opposition parties, whose taxes are used to pay your salary, because you believe they have wrongly attacked the President.
For sure CDC partisans who are not employees of the Government and thus not being paid by the taxpayers can engage in partisan attacks like the one you launched against Mr. Cummings. But not you whose salary we Liberians–including members of opposition parties–pay with our hard earned dollars that goes into the tax coffers. If you want to engage in such attacks, then resign you Government job. But you cannot be eating from us and yet attacking us. So remember this basic fact: You work for us the Liberian people and not for CDC.
But in his own response to Presidential press secretary, Cummings on an OK FM evening show in Monrovia Wednesday said, while he has no interest in personal attacks, rather than the substantive issues, it was paramount to state that while it may be true that selling Coke varies from governing a country, Mannah must be reminded that playing soccer in no way prepared President Weah for the Presidency.
Indeed what Mannah failed to do in his commentary was to outline the President’s plan for the country, especially plans for economic resuscitation, agriculture, education, security, etc. This would have put Cummings’ criticism out of place.
At OK FM Wednesday evening, Cummings noted that Weah being lucky with the third trial charm should know exactly what he brings to the presidency.
“You’ve tried this three times, you won it the on the third try, I would think you would know what you’re going to do and you would be sharing that with the country,” he said.
This, Cummings said, would enable citizens know the President’s goal and vision for the country by which they can hold him accountable.
The ANC political leader also raised concerns over accountability and transparency of the government, stressing that though it is very important to build roads, the government hasn’t provided any detail on the cost of the roads it intends to build for which almost a billion dollar has been solicited.
“How do we know we have borrowed enough?” he asked.
He continued by questioning the legitimacy of the entity from which the US$536 million loan is being sought.
“There are some questions, a public knowledge about the entity, Eton. Is it a legitimate entity? Have they made loans before? Who are the shareholders of the entity? Are they reputable people? Where is the money going to come from? Where are they going to source it? I’m not saying it isn’t, I’m saying we don’t know. None of these were disclosed.”